A longtime Okanagan family has donated two parcels of marshland to Ducks Unlimited Canada, ensuring the wetlands will be maintained for wildlife in perpetuity.
The Young and Lloyd families, which settled in Oyama more than a century ago, were granted the parcels in the 1930s, when a period of severe drought extending across the country saw the wetland sufficiently dried out to allow it to be farmed.
The land was cultivated in oats and potatoes, and cattle were driven to and from their summer grazing lands along the wetland’s edge.
The families were eventually joined through marriage, and the Young family continued to reside next to the marsh.
By the time Joyce Young, now 96, married Richard Young in the summer of 1950, wetter conditions had returned, and the marsh was again prolific with wildlife.
Joyce has spent decades watching the goings-on of painted turtles, great blue herons, red-winged and yellow-headed blackbirds, ring-necked pheasants, and a variety of snakes, frogs and waterfowl that have made their homes in and around the marsh over the years.
Her children and grandchildren learned to skate on the wetland, known locally as Marsh Lake.
Recognizing the wetland’s importance to wildlife and concerned about the ongoing loss of wetland habitat, Joyce and her sons, David and Robert Young, made the decision to donate their marshland to Ducks Unlimited Canada to safeguard its future.
David Young, who had donated an adjacent land parcel in 2008 and was satisfied with both the organization’s management of the land and the tax benefits he received as a result of the donation, contacted Ducks Unlimited in the spring of 2014 to get the ball rolling.
After the property appraisals and biological and land surveys were completed, the land titles were transferred earlier this year.
Although Ducks Unlimited largely intends to preserve the wetland in its current condition, in late October a change occurred at the site as a grassy area alongside the wetland was restored to native riparian vegetation.
Wildlife populations in the area will benefit from the addition of prickly rose, snowberry, willow, dogwood and other shrubs planted along the wetland edge.
The Marsh Lake project has been supported by Environment Canada’s Ecological Gifts program. Site restoration work, conducted by local contractor Interior Land Reclamation Ltd., was funded by Environment Canada’s National Wetland Conservation Fund, the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, and Ducks Unlimited.
Source: Contributed by Ducks Unlimited, as reported in The Okanagan Saturday, November 7, 2015.
See also: Global News — Lake Country family passes on big payout to preserve wetland
Ducks Unlimited Canada — New wetlands added to Marsh Lake project